Philippines Looking to Boost ‘Deterrence’ in Talks with US

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 1:30 pm (UTC-5)
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The Philippines says it is considering a U.S. proposal to deploy surveillance planes on its territory to enhance Manila's ability to patrol disputed areas in the South China Sea.

That position was put forward Friday by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Like other countries in the region, the Philippines has claims to parts of the resource-rich South China Sea. But China has been increasingly assertive in pressing its claims there. The Philippines, along with Vietnam, has accused Beijing of disrupting its efforts at oil and gas exploration in the region.

U.S. and Philippine officials met in Washington Thursday, and more talks are planned for March.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Friday Manila is also looking to increase the number of joint military exercises with Washington. He said, in a statement, it is to Manila's “definite advantage” to maximize its alliance with the U.S.

About 600 U.S. special operation troops are currently stationed in the Philippines to advise local forces in their fight with al-Qaida-linked militants.

Another Philippine official said Friday that Manila was also looking to enhance its defense capabilities in talks with Australia and other neighboring countries.

The United States recently announced a new military strategy that will “re-balance” U.S. forces towards the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. officials say the move should not be viewed as a threat to China.